Music to Dry Your Eyes To: A Reply

I had no intention of writing this. Having finished Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII last night, I was preparing my writeup and browsing Simon Parkin’s site, digging for his Eurogamer review that touched on a couple points I wanted to respond to.

Instead, I found his Music to Dry Yours Eyes To (and part 2) and listened to his selections. I began to think about the especially affecting songs I’ve come across, and, after basking in their associated melancholy and nostalgia for a bit, wrote this list.

While building this list, I realized that most of these are not necessary sad so much as they are hopeful songs. Some are empowered by personal events and history; others, the ones I find most interesting professionally, draw their strength in their coordination with film, by their place in a well-tuned recipe of story, cinematography, and sound. All of them would be suitable for driving alone in the dark, after a good rain.

Listed mostly in the order that I remembered them, which may mean something.
1. Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) – I Will Wait For You

I’ll start by saying that most of these songs are less make me cry and more of the lump in the throat variety. Except for this one. Hearing it for the first time while watching The Umbrellas of Cherbourg late at night after an argument with my wife… oh man. It’s a beautiful and sad song within a perfect film. Connie Francis’ English version was particularly effective in Futurama, too.

2. The Sundays – Here’s Where the Story Ends

An almost embarrassing entry… for me personally, it’s the trash and tribulations of high school rolled up tightly into song form. The entirety of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic is, really, but especially this song.

3. Mercedes Sosa – Unicornio

Seen here in the form I discovered it, as the backbone of Won Kar Wai’s short film The Follow for BMW. Silvio Rodríguez’ original tale of love and revolution is just as moving. The lyrics follow:

My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday.
I left it grazing and it disappeared.
Any information, I will pay for it well.
The flowers that it left behind don’t want to talk to me.

My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday,
I don’t know if it left me, or if it got lost,
and I don’t have but one blue unicorn.
If anyone’s got any news, I beg to hear them.
A hundred thousand or a million, I will pay.
My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday,
it went away.

My unicorn and I became friends,
a little bit with love, a little bit with truth.
With its indigo horn it was fishing for a song
knowing how to share it was its calling.

My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday,
and it may seem perhaps like an obsession
but I don’t have but one blue unicorn
and even if I had two I only wanted that one.
Any information, I will pay for it,
My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday,
it went away.

4. Berlin – The Metro

I don’t know what it is about “The Metro,” but it just hits me when I hear it. I can’t help but empathize with the subjects. Is this a sad song for anyone else, or just another poppy tune from the 80s?
5. EBTG – My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains

If there’s one thing that Everything but the Girl especially excels at, it’s writing thoughtful and depressing songs. I love them, and this is one of my favorites. It seems most of the depressing moments in my life are linked to an EBTG song in one way or another.

6. Gary Jules – Mad World

Thanks for the marketing machine behind Gears of War, if you missed the 1980s and passed on Donnie Darko, you’ve still most likely heard “Mad World.” Like Peter Shilling and “Major Tom,” this is one of those songs that stands out from a repertoire that otherwise doesn’t really grab me. The Tears for Fears original is a nice tune, but Jules nailed it with this version.
7. New Order – Elegia

I’m unable to separate this one from More, Mark Osborne’s 1998 short film. More tells the story of a factory worker and inventor who longs for the happiness of his youth, and the somber and brooding “Elegia” fits it perfectly.

8. DCFC – I Will Follow You Into The Dark

“If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks, then I’ll follow you into the dark.”

Gulp. No life moments or memories attached to this one… it’s just a plain good thoughtful song, one of Ben Gibbard’s best.
9. Faye Wong – Eyes On Me

I’ve yet to play Final Fantasy VIII, for which Nobuo Uematsu originally wrote the song, so I’m interested in seeing if and how my perception of “Eyes On Me” changes once I do. I’ve been a fan of Faye Wong since I saw her in Chungking Express, and this is one of the few English language songs she sings.

10. Les Balayeurs Du Desert – Decollage

I discovered this song in the clip above, accompanying video of the wonderful Sultan’s Elephant public art installation by Royal de Luxe several years ago. It’s a sweet, thoughtful, and curious song, and for me, quite moving.

11. Zbigniew Preisner – Song for the Unification of Europe

A beautiful song from a beautiful movie, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Bleu. With verses inspired by 1 Corinthians 13, the song is central to the plot of the film, with the scene above (the finale, so uh, spoilers) a key moment of realization.

Though I speak with the tongues of angels,
If I have not love…
My words would resound with but a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophesy…
And understand all mysteries…
and all knowledge…
And though I have all faith
So that I could remove mountains,
If I have not love…
I am nothing.
Love is patient, full of goodness;
Love tolerates all things,
Aspires to all things,
Love never dies,
while the prophecies shall be done away,
tongues shall be silenced,
knowledge shall fade…
thus then shall linger only
faith, hope, and love…
but the greatest of these…
is love.

And, as Simon ended his, these are my choices. How about you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.